The Movie: Cosmic Origins:
Just Another Heresy in Religious Garb
In August 2012, the new film Cosmic Origins will be released. Taking the lead in presentation is Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, SJ, PhD. Knowing the previous work of Fr. Spitzer, as well as seeing the trailer and the description of the movie on its website, it is relatively easy to predict what the movie will address and how it will do so. The movie will be an attempt to answer popular atheists such as Stephen Hawking who recently proposed that God wasn’t needed to start the universe. In brief, Cosmic Origins will claim that whatever cosmology Hawking and his like-minded cosmologists cook up in order to eliminate God, Christians will counter by declaring that God started it. It’s a simple formula and it has been used before by other Christian apologists.
It sounds like the Christian can’t lose; that Dr. Hawking has met his match and the game is finally over. After all, it now appears as if Dr. Hawking, who has been skirting around the edge of atheism for quite some time, finally fell off the wagon. What could be easier than denouncing an atheist? Or is it?
Let’s take a closer look at the “Christian” apologetic with which Cosmic Origins will purport to slay the mighty Hawking. Here is the first problem with its approach. Just because God is put behind the current theories of modern science doesn’t make either the science or the theology correct. Scientifically speaking, the Big Bang has shown itself to be a specious theory. It simply doesn’t work. To even make it appear as if it is working, its adherents have had to introduce all kinds of fudge factors, such as Inflation, Dark Energy, Dark Matter, varying Lambda and Omega values, isotropy and homogeneity, etc. Even its major components, the General Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, contradict one another. Things haven’t improved much with the apparent discovery of the Higgs boson, since now that they must claim to have a complete model of the atom, they left no room for gravity – the very ingredient missing from the Standard Model. All told, they have been trying to make the Big Bang stand up by its own bootstraps for the last 80 years, but to no avail. The universe is just too fine-tuned and complex to be carried by their piecemeal theories.
As such, Fr. Spitzer’s movie will not be critiquing Hawking’s Big Bang science. Rather, Spitzer, as he has done in the past, will attempt to marry Big Bangism with the watered-down version of Genesis for which he and his Jesuit colleagues have become notorious in recent years. The only real difference between Hawking and Spitzer is that Hawking follows his material cosmology to its logical conclusion, while Spitzer ties pretty bows around a failed theory and tries to sell it as the coalescence of science and religion. Consequently, Cosmic Origins will fail to answer the very questions it purports to answer.
Cosmic Origins will also fail because the real reason Hawking believes he doesn’t need God to start the universe is because he has replaced God’s creative power with the creative power of quantum fluctuations. Hawking believes that particles from other universes appear and disappear in our universe in a fraction of a second (a theory which is partly based on the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle which makes atomic activity random). These fluctuations sometimes take hold and develop into other universes, and according to Hawking, that is precisely how our particular universe came to exist. It is merely the product of an infinite succession of universes, one giving birth to the other.
Hawking’s new solution sprouted when he and his fellow cosmologists realized that these pertinent questions: “Where did the Big Bang come from?” and “What was before the Big Bang?” never go away. These questions were posed after modern cosmology couldn’t get the infinite “Steady State” model to work. So the finite Big Bang had to take its place, but it created a huge problem. If the universe is finite, then it must have had a beginning, and if so, how did it begin? Today’s atheistic scientists didn’t want to say that God began it, for that would make them accountable to God. So, after many years of thinking about it, they dreamed up the notion that there have been an infinite series of universes, one universe creating another by an endless process of time and chance. It is called the Multiverse. Essentially, the infiniteness of the Steady State model was repackaged to look dynamic instead of steady.
Perhaps unbeknownst to Fr. Spitzer, this new shift in cosmology presents a dire caveat for him. As Hawking was being honest with his own scientific postulates (which then led him to the infinite Multiverse), Fr. Spitzer obviously couldn’t go in the same direction since the Multiverse is intrinsically atheistic. It has no beginning and needs no God. But Fr. Spitzer and his colleagues had already accepted the Big Bang, and they were encouraged to do so because the Big Bang could then be coupled with the book of Genesis which also gives the universe a beginning. But Fr. Spitzer either didn’t see or didn’t want to accept the next step of modern cosmology – Big Bang quantum fluctuations leading to the Multiverse.
So now Fr. Spitzer is in damage control, and Cosmic Origins is the attempt to reverse course. It will attempt to stop the watershed of modern cosmology at the Big Bang and condemn Dr. Hawking for moving on to the Multiverse. At this point, Fr. Spitzer has invested too much in Big Bangism to reject it. For his theological sentiments, it seems such a perfect fit between Genesis and modern science. But Hawking is no dummy. He is going to retort that Fr. Spitzer is not following science to its logical conclusion. Hawking won’t allow Fr. Spitzer to stop at the infinitesimal singularity of Big Bangism. Hawking will ask, “Fr. Spitzer where did the singularity came from?” Hawking will insist it came from the Multiverse. Fr. Spitzer will claim it came from God, and the inevitable result will be that science and religion will be spread farther apart than ever before.
Consequently, Fr. Spitzer’s movie will have accomplished nothing, except to show that he and his colleagues made a crucial mistake many years ago when they accepted the Big Bang as truth. Little did they realize where it would end up. It led Hawking and his colleagues to the infinite Multiverse, not to God. As a result, Cosmic Origins will not advance the “science v. religion” discussion beyond square one.
But here is a sadder truth. When Fr. Spitzer and his mentor, Fr. Georges Lemaitre, accepted the Big Bang as truth, they could only do so if they consigned themselves to dilute the opening words of Genesis. Something had to give, and it was much easier to rearrange the words and meaning of Scripture than it was to challenge the dictates of Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger. But the bare fact is, if read at face value, Genesis won’t allow Fr. Spitzer to say God created a Big Bang. The words simply aren’t there. If Fr. Spitzer had his druthers, he would probably want Genesis 1:1-2 to say or mean something along these lines:
“In the beginning God created the Big Bang, and the quantum singularity was formless and void and then a vast explosion inflated it in 10-50 seconds, and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the isotropic and homogeneous curved space. And Earth was formed out of the cosmic dust 8.5 billion years later.”
But the Bible of the Church Fathers, Tradition and the councils through Vatican 1 insists the Bible said and meant the following:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”
Notice that Genesis starts with the Earth, not a Big Bang. It was the Earth that was formless and void; the Earth that was in darkness; and the Earth’s water upon which the Spirit moved. God created it as such and purposely wrote it as such to thwart any attempt to start the universe with haphazard molecules that appeared out of nothing and, by eons of time and blind chance, just happened to coalesce into complex structures like human beings. Fr. Spitzer isn’t the first to try to twist these words and he won’t be the last. The Greeks were promoting Big Bangism and molecules-to-man long before Darwin and Einstein, and their scientific philosophy was fought tooth and nail by the Church Fathers. The Greeks were only missing intimidating tools like obtuse tensor calculus and magical mutating genes to convince their fellow Greeks into accepting their theories.
So what’s a poor priest to do? Scripture says what it says and it cannot be changed. Well, rather than change the actual words of Scripture, one allows himself to change the purpose for which Scripture’s words were written. Fr. Spitzer learned this technique from Fr. Lemaitre and his fellow liberal Catholic theologians. One simply adopts another “scientific” methodology in order to rationalize why you can change the purpose of Scripture’s words. The new science is called “historical biblical criticism.” Invented in the late 1800s (right around the time that Darwin challenged religious establishments with his theory of Evolution), this new fangled approach to the Bible claims that Genesis was not written by Moses in the 15th century BC (the traditional view), but by Jews in the Babylonian captivity during the 6th century BC. Why? Because it then allows one to presume that the only motivation for the captive Jews to write the opening chapters of Genesis was to make the Jewish God bigger and better than the Babylonian god, Marduk. After all, Marduk had been punishing the Jews in Babylon for 70 years and Yahweh was just about to rescue them, so having Yahweh appear like a great warrior who destroys the darkness and recreates the Earth was so apropos to the escape from Babylon. One then posits that, because of their desire to elevate Yahweh over Marduk, the Jews could not have had any intention whatsoever to write a literal and accurate account about how the world began. For Fr. Spitzer, the Jews merely fabricated a story to make their deity more powerful than the Babylonians’ and then put the story into their canon and called it Scripture. Presto! Fr. Spitzer can then have his Big Bang and also declare that the Bible doesn’t contradict science.
The sad reality is, Fr. Spitzer has given us falsehoods about both science and the Bible. Just as there isn’t any proof for the Big Bang, there isn’t the slightest proof for the idea that the Jews in Babylon wrote Genesis. It is a bankrupt theory started by liberal theologians of the 1800s. (See my book, Genesis: Chapters 1-11 and its treatment of the Julius Wellhausen “documentary hypothesis”). The real truth is that Moses wrote Genesis; and the Babylonians and many other cultures copied it but put in their own characters, plots and spins, and thus Marduk was formed.
Cosmic Origins purports to be a Christian view of science. It is no such thing. It will neither enhance science nor Christianity. Christianity was built on a face value reading of Scripture but Fr. Spitzer has utterly rejected that foundation. Fr. Spitzer believes only what he decides is the truth, and his grid for determining the truth is the unproven and dubious theories of modern science. The reality is that the Big Bang theory contains so many scientific errors, false assumptions, and fudge-factors it is a wonder that anyone worth his scientific salt could put his name to it. But atheists like Hawking put their name to it because they have no other choice, for the only alternative is to accept the biblical God who created everything miraculously and instantaneously by divine fiat. They can’t have that kind of God since that would make them accountable for their sins. The closest they want to get to God is, as Einstein proposed, the god of Spinoza, the god who is somewhere out in the vast recesses of the universe but doesn’t want to get personally involved with his creatures. That, of course, means man can sin as much as he wants (as Einstein did in his personal life) and not need to answer to anyone greater than himself. How convenient.
The shame of it is, clerics like Fr. Spitzer think they are being so noble by trying to meld modern cosmology with the Bible. His motivation seems worthy – he doesn’t want science and Scripture to contradict each other. But the reality is, it’s Fr. Spitzer’s science that contradicts the Bible; and his interpretation of the Bible that contradicts true science. Alternative scientific data supports the biblical fact that the Earth was created first and placed in the center, and around it all the other ornaments of creation were created in successive order. But Fr. Spitzer has no time or sympathy for such alternatives. He has cast his lot with modern academia instead of challenging them to reinvestigate what he, as a scientist who is familiar with the failures of Big Bang cosmology, must know is nothing more than patchwork science. In fact, a scientific colleague of mine recently told me that when he approached Fr. Spitzer about investigating the evidence against the Big Bang and evolution, the good Father swatted it as if it were a fly. As a result, Fr. Spitzer has become the useful idiot of atheistic science. Here is how my colleague described the encounter:
Two years ago, I spoke at a Catholic Medical Association conference where Fr. Spitzer was the keynote speaker. I tried to speak to him privately about the evidence against the Big Bang and referred him to a dissenter’s website. He told me that the dissenters were so few they were not worth taking seriously. Then he excused himself and walked away from me. In one of his talks Fr. Spitzer mocked Christians who believe in the literal historical truth of Genesis 1-11 and claimed that Genesis 1-11 was written by scribes around the time of the Babylonian Captivity. I was impressed by the disturbing fact that in the two talks that I heard, he made frequent reference to his own books, but never once quoted from the Bible. I believe he will do far more harm to Catholic youth than Richard Dawkins and the New Atheists.
Even though Fr. Spitzer imbibes the unproven tenets of modern cosmology, he will claim in Cosmic Origins that he is actually leading these atheists back to God. He is doing no such thing. If he really wanted to bring them back to God he would tell them to reject the Big Bang and Multiverse theories, which were invented by atheistic scientists for the sole purpose of escaping God, not embracing him. Their cosmological theories don’t work and are, quite frankly, ridiculous. If Fr. Spitzer wants to bring them back to God he should tell them to stop lying to us about how cohesive the Big Bang theory is. He should tell them to cease with their patchwork theories, obtuse and misleading mathematical equations and wished-for forces (e.g., Dark Energy, Dark Matter, Inflation, Lorentz transforms, String Theory, etc.). Instead of coddling these atheistic scientists and declaring their theories as truth, Fr. Spitzer should tell them they are farther from the truth than they ever have been. Unfortunately, that won’t happen simply because Fr. Spitzer appears to be one of them.
In the end, Cosmic Origins will bring neither you nor atheistic scientists any closer to God or Christianity. It will only give the illusion of doing so. In reality, it will tempt you to cast aside 1900 years of Christian tradition; dilute the words of Holy Writ; mistrust your own common sense; and make you believe that there is no science to support a face value reading of the Bible. Believe me, there is a very different story to tell.
Robert Sungenis, Ph.D.
PS: If Fr. Spitzer would like to have a debate on these issues, I would be more than happy to oblige.
Starring: Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, SJ, PhD., Arno Penzias, Lisa Randall (Harvard), John Polinghorn, Michael Heller (Vatican Observatory), Jennifer Wiseman (NASA), Owen Gingerich, Stephen Barr (host)